To the common folks, choosing a home loan is almost as hard as choosing the property itself. If you are currently in the midst of home loan survey to buy the house of your dreams, here are six things you should consider before making what could be the biggest financial decision of your life.

1) Type of home loan

First and foremost, consider what works best for you: a traditional term loan or a flexible home loan (flexi-loan). A traditional term loan requires you to pay a fixed amount each month for the entire tenure of your home loan (eg. 30 years), while a flexi-loan gives you the option of reducing your interest whenever you wish (i.e. by saving your extra money into a linked current account. The more you save, the less interest you pay).

If you have a strict and predictable cash-flow pattern, a traditional term loan may be the best option. If you prefer flexibility in paying off your loan, a flexi-loan would be a better option.

2) Interest rate

As of all loans, your priority should probably go to the bank that offers you the lowest interest rate. Citing an example for a home loan of RM500,000 over a period of 30 years, the difference in interest between an interest rate of 4.2% and 4.15% (i.e. a mere 0.05%) could be well over RM5,000! To find out which bank offers the best home loan interest rate, iMoney.my provides a home loan comparison table.

3) Margin of financing (how much you can borrow)

Depending on various factors which include the value of the property as well as your standing with the bank, different banks may offer you different margins of financing. As you will be required to pay the amount not covered by the home loan upfront, this becomes very important especially if you’re short on cash.

As an example: for a RM500,000 house, you’ll need to pay RM100,000 upfront if your Margin of Financing is 80%; but you’ll only need to pay RM50,000 upfront if your Margin of Financing is 90%.

4) Lock-in period

Lock-in period is the period you will incur a penalty (usually 2-3% of the principle loan amount) if you choose to pay off your home loan in full before it reaches the end of its tenure. When it comes to choosing a home loan, it pays to have a lock-in period that is as short as possible with a penalty that is as low as possible. Also, some banks do not charge a penalty at all if sufficient notice is given. Again, iMoney provides a table comparing lock-in periods of all Malaysian banks.

5) Fees & charges

A home loan application involves professional and government-regulated processes such as preparation and disbursement of loan agreement, payment of stamp duty and processing by the bank, just to name a few. All these processes usually come with fees and charges that will be borne by you, the buyer.

In certain cases, it may also be wholly or partially borne by the banks as part of your loan package. Hence, is it best to sit down with the loan officers (for all the banks you are considering taking your home loan from) and have them run through the fees and charges with you. The task may be repetitive and time-consuming but it will be time well spent.

6) The bank

Lastly, understand that you’ll be dealing with the bank on a very frequent basis as long as your home loan is in effect (which may be 20 to 30 years). Keeping that in mind, you should probably choose a bank you are very comfortable with. Some of the things you should take note include:

  • Do you have an existing savings or current account with the bank (for ease of inter-account transfer)?
  • Are you satisfied with their standard of service?
  • Is a local branch available near your home or office?
  • Do you consider the bank to be trustworthy and reliable?
  • Does the bank offer value-added services that will make your life easier for the long haul?
  • How is the bank’s reputation as a whole?
  • Does the bank provide online banking facilities which allow you to pay your installments easily?
  • Is your loan officer approachable, so that you can phone him or her anytime you have a question?

Bearing all these matters in mind, good luck in finding your next home loan!

This article is provided by www.iMoney.my which compares between the various loans, savings and insurance schemes available in Malaysia.

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